Eighteen Years After He Left the World

Yudit Shahar
| poetry

Translated by Aviya Kushner
He was not relevant, in the Population Registry they lost

the documents, in the Interior Ministry they claimed it wasn’t

possible to verify

facts, I signed a declaration and swore in front of the respected


I am Yudit Shahar declaring that I am the daughter of blessed be

his memory

who was born in 1911 in Turkey

named Elazar Sabach, who in Israel in 1929 took the name

Eliezer Saba

and chose to live and die as Eliezer Shahar, and that one zero

in the identity card was destroyed

by fault of the office, I declare that he is him

(I wanted to say to the judge:

his eyes were brown and reddened

when he got angry, he had a pale face,

both of us have the same freckles on the shoulders.

I wanted to say, I too did

not know the man—

and there is a doubt as to whether

he knew me.)

Yudit Shahar grew up on the border of Sh’chunat HaTikvah, or “the neighborhood of hope,” in Tel Aviv. She is the author of the poetry collections It’s Me Speaking (2009) and Every Street Has Its Own Madwoman(2013), and recently won the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize in Hebrew Literature. Her first collection, It’s Me Speaking, won five separate literary prizes in Israel.

Aviya Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking home in New York. She is the author of The Grammar of God: A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible (Spiegel & Grau / Random House, 2015), a finalist for The National Jewish Book Award and the Sami Rohr Prize. She is The Forward’s language columnist and an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago.

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